As a nursing professional, you touch the lives of patients and their families every day. This is one of the reasons that I chose to pursue nursing as a career.
Having learned so much from my undergraduate nursing degree and subsequent primary health care nurse practitioner program at Queen’s, I decided to return as a doctoral nursing student with a keen interest in geriatric care, particularly in marginalized and vulnerable populations.
It was wonderful to be back at Queen’s but, after my first year, I wanted to find an opportunity to build upon my clinical expertise and broaden my experiences working with populations in need. I first considered a developing country, but realized that I could make a real difference here in Canada as well. This led me to seek out a summer position serving two aboriginal communities in northern Ontario.
I quickly learned that practicing nursing in the north was very different. In most cases, I was the only nurse practitioner serving these First Nation’s communities. In these environments, nurses are the primary health care providers, and I was called upon to leverage and practice every skill I had learned to date.
With very little access to technology (not even an x-ray machine), I honed my assessment skills in dealing with everything from musculoskeletal injuries to respiratory infections. My role also involved practicing preventative care, including immunizations, health exams and mental health interventions. In some cases, caring for members of these communities was as simple as handing out bottled water, something so many of us take for granted.
When I look back, I realize that this was a tremendous opportunity not only to learn, but to give back and make a real difference for a community in need.
By going back to the basics of health care, I was able to give back to these communities, but I also took away so much from the experience. My base foundation and skill set learned at Queen’s School of Nursing gave me the confidence to look beyond the classroom and apply my skills while still a student.
My experience resulted in a new-found respect for the roles that culture and history play in decision-making related to patient care. It has reaffirmed my desire to complete my PhD and perhaps teach what I have learned to nursing students here at Queen’s. I believe we all have the skills and tools to make a difference.
Lessons learned don’t always happen in the classroom. Thanks to the opportunities made available at Queen’s, students can create change and be changed.
It’s up to each student to take advantage of the opportunities, but it’s thanks to donors that these opportunities are available. Just as one student can make a difference, one donor can make a difference.
We can't do it without you. Please add your support to the 2011-12 Queen's Annual Appeal with a gift to the Nursing Initiatives Fund today.
Stacey Karp, BScN, NP-PHC, MSc(N)
PhD Nursing Candidate